NATO is observing signs that China is considering supplying arms to Russia for the war in Ukraine, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, told Reuters on Thursday.
He also warned the Beijing leadership against such a move, with his warning coming days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that China sending weapons to Ukraine would result in a third world war.
‘We have not seen any deadly arms shipments from China to Russia, but we have observed indications that they are considering or planning to do so,” Stoltenberg said.
“This is why the United States and its allies have been very clear and have warned against this. China should not support Russia’s illegal war,” Stoltenberg added.
He pointed out that China is a member of the UN Security Council and that Russia’s operation violates the UN Charter.
“The fundamental principle of the Charter is respect for the integrity of other states, not attacking another country with hundreds of thousands of troops,” added the NATO Secretary General.
Stoltenberg is not the only one raising the possibility of Chinese weapon shipments to Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. intelligence has “proof” China is planning to send weapons, with the Biden administration considering releasing classified documents to prove their claim.
Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also warned China of the consequences of supporting Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
“We are concerned that China is considering supporting Russia’s war effort in Ukraine with lethal assistance, something that we’re watching very, very closely,” said Blinken. “As I also said, and as President Biden said, going back many months when the aggression first took place, and he spoke to President Xi Jinping, he told him at that point that there would be real consequences in our own relationship were China to provide lethal assistance to Russia in this aggression against Ukraine or in a systematic way aid in the evasion of sanctions. And as I said, we have a real concern that China is considering doing just that.”
Zelensky: If China joins Russia, there will be a world war
The Ukrainian president, however, sees no signs of Chinese military assistance to Russia
China has so far not reacted on the matter, but the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said earlier in the day that it regarded the U.S. intelligence reports as mere speculation.
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s most senior foreign policy official, said, “The current international situation is indeed grim and complex, but China-Russia relations have withstood the test of the international situation and remained mature, tenacious and stable. Although crises and chaos often appear in front of us, there are opportunities in crises, and crises can be turned into opportunities.”
Stoltenberg also addressed progress on Sweden’s NATO membership ambitions amid stalled Turkish-Swedish talks, according to Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet. He expressed the hope that Sweden and Finland would be full members in time for July’s NATO summit.
He said that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had agreed to meet with representatives of Finland and Sweden at NATO headquarters in mid-March to address the challenges surrounding Turkey’s ratification of the Swedish accession protocol.
He also said that as part of the NATO accession process, several NATO members, including the United States, had provided security guarantees separately, making it unthinkable that Finland or Sweden would face a military threat from Russia without a NATO response.